FAPECAFES is an umbrella organization of seven primary producer groups: APECAM, PROCAP, PROCAFEQ, APEOSAE, APECAEL, APECAP, and ACRIM. The co-op represents over 1650 families in the highlands. The co-op formed in 2002 after years of informal cooperation between farmers in the region. In 2011 95% of the growers were farming 1 1⁄2 hectares of land or less with an average yield of six quintales (600 pounds) per hectare due to an extremely mature stock of coffee plants including Borbon, Caturra, Pacas and other heirloom varietals. Coffee is grown in a wide variety of microclimates with altitudes spanning between 800 and 2000 meters. In 2011 83% of the farms are certified organic through BCS, USDA and JAS. Each of the seven primary associations has a cupper on staff who is responsible for coffee quality and integrity. FAPECAFES has two cuppers on staff that sample and confirm the results of the coffee they receive from the primary co-ops. FAPECAFES farmers invest in planting fruit trees to provide shade for coffee plants These include banana, orange, lime, papaya, yucca and others. This not only allows them to grow food for consumption or market, but also provides a habitat for birds and other animals. FAPECAFES is purchasing wet mills and building greenhouse-type coffee drying facilities in the communities where the famers live to improve quality and to maximize possible output through organic production. In addition to coffee, FEPECAFES farmers produce organic products such as honey and other bee products, chile, and bananas. They work toward phytosanitary conditions on farms, on crop diversification projects, and prohibit the use agrochemicals. They became FLO fair trade certified in 2002.
Founded in 1998
Comprised of 7,000 members
Mount Elgon Region
1000 – 1900 meters above sea level
Arabica – Catimor varietals
Medium acidity, full body, cedar and dark chocolate flavors
Located on and around Mount Elgon, a large volcanic mountain spanning a chunk of the border between Uganda and Kenya, the farmers of Gumutindo produce high quality arabica coffee at altitudes up to 1,900 meters above sea level. The cooperative is a farmer-owned business comprised of ten different “primary societies” (community based organizations) and representing more than 7,000 farmers. After losing its foothold in the international market in the early 1990s, it became very difficult for Ugandan coffee farmers to find sales outlets for their high quality beans. The dismantling of the country’s coffee industry had created a hostile environment for foreign importers – and Uganda became known as a high volume, lower grade source. But in 1998, a handful of farmers joined a collective effort to re-establish Uganda’s commitment to quality coffee and cooperative structures. And by 1999, some 200 farmers had gathered around the leadership of their founding General Manager Willington Wamayeye. And with the support of U.K.-based fair-trader / developer TWIN Trading, they were able to consolidate a functioning organization. Since then, Gumutindo has expanded significantly in membership and capacity. They now boast a professional staff, team of agronomists, technicians and cuppers, as well as having constructed their own offices, warehouse, and sorting room. Gumutindo has become an important motor for development in the Mount Elgon region, having revitalized its primary societies, increased the quality of coffee exports, instilled organic values and practices among its farmer members, and incorporated the voice of women in both its organizational and agricultural development. Appealing to the demands of specialty coffee markets, the coop analyzes and sorts all of its collected coffee according to quality, allowing importers to discern and select which coffees would best suit their market. Fair Trade has allowed the primary societies to build stores, offices, and a medical clinic for the village’s inhabitants. Gumutindo members hope to continue their growth through transparent and mutually beneficial trade partnerships: “We seek to develop long term relationships based on mutual commitment and loyalty, with buyers who are ready to work with us as our farmer membership, coffee quality and volumes increase,” says Marketing and Exports Manager Lydia Nabulumbi. Coop Coffees imported our first container of Gumutindo coffee in 2009. Since then, roasters have appreciated the consistent quality and healthy communication between organizations. And looking forward to our 2014 arrivals, we should be reaching our 500,000th pound mark.
The first coffee in the DR Congo to achieve top national grade – Kivu 2 – since 1967 Specialty fully-washed arabica coffee Organic certification FLO certification number 26275 Main harvest from March to June; fly crop from September to October Shipments from June to December Altitude 1460m to over 2000 metres above sea level . SOPACDI represents over 5600 farmers from different ethnic groups in the Kivu Eastern Democratic Republic of Congo, producing some of the finest coffee in Africa. After years of conflict and civil war, their coffee promotes working together for a better future. It is a time of great change and hope for us. Many farmers had to leave their land for safety during the conflict years. Before farmers had no choice but to sell their coffee to smugglers or smuggle it themselves across Lake Kivu into Rwanda. It was very dangerous and many farmers lost their lives. Eleven years ago a group of farmers came together to look for a way forward. They decided that producing and marketing the finest coffee was the answer. They experimented, and were able to produce just a few tons in the beginning. They found their first buyer in 2008, who was amazed by the quality of their coffee. Since then, the momentum has been building and they have begun renovating farms, and have achieved international fairtrade and organic certifications. Many families have returned to their homes and have joined the cooperative. Around 20% of their coffee farmers are women, many of them are widows whose husbands drowned smuggling coffee to barter for food and everyday essentials. Sopacdi’s female members receive a price premium for coffee delivered to the cooperative. The solidarity and price premiums will enable them to provide for their families.
Gedeo Zone, Ethiopia
Indigenous heirloom cultivars, Full natural and dried on raised beds
Very pronounced cherry and decidedly sweet aroma. Flavors of lemon combined with cherry. Particularly clean and sweet. Ethiopia Yirgacheffe 3 FTO Banko Gotiti GrainPro coffee is sourced from family-owned farms organized around the Banko Gotiti Cooperative located in the village of Banko Gotiti in the southern district of Gedeb in the Gedeo Zone, Ethiopia. The cooperative was established in 2012 as a separate entity from the larger Worka Cooperative, and currently has approximately 300 members. Banko Gotiti Cooperative is well known for the best coffee cherry selection in Ethiopia. Ripe cherries are carefully selected and immediately placed on raised beds carefully constructed to ensure proper air circulation and temperature control for an optimal drying process. Cherries are also turned regularly on the beds to prevent damage during the drying process. The cherries are stored in a local warehouse after the moisture is reduced to between 11.5 and 12 percent, and then transported to Addis Ababa where the coffee is milled and exported.
Member of YCFCU District of Yirgacheffe Yirgacheffe region Member of YCFCU since 2006 1650 farmers members 1 ha per farmer Altitude: 1800 to 2400 m Varietals: Heirloom Idido cooperative is very often mentioned as one of the YCFCU cooperative that delivers the best quality. We have been buying from this cooperative in 2013 and 2014. YCFCU can guarantee us a full container from this cooperative and this year maybe a second one. This cooperative is on the same terroir as Negele Gorbitu our former partner through OCFCU. In 2014 the cooperative shipped out the equivalent of 3 containers of washed coffee and 1 container of natural. All the washed coffee was scored by ECX within grade 1 or 2. All the Natural was scored within grade 2 or 3. In 2015 the cooperative expects to ship out the equivalent of 9 containers in total which is 3 times what they did in 2014. They are adding up 300 members this year and the yields will be higher than last year. In 2014 the farmers received 12 Ethiopian birr per kg of cherries as a first price then a second price of 1 Ethiopian birr per kg. In 2015 they expect to get 13 to 15 Ethiopian birr per kg of cherries. The cooperative only owns one washing station. The place looked very unorganized during our visit. When I say that I mean we could not really identify the workers versus the people from outside coming for our visit (out of curiosity). The pulping machine was broken and they had cherries from the previous day all around the washing station. They told us they would use it for natural coffee into the second processing unit only for natural. The water in the fermenting tanks was very dirty. They said they change the water every 12 hours during fermenting but to be honest it did not look to be the case. Another problem is that coffee in the soaking tanks was covered. They explained us that because of the lack of space onto primary drying tables, they had to keep the coffee in the soaking time for more than 12 hours so they cover the tanks in order for the coffee to not heat too much. Sorters (women) are paid 20 Ethiopian birr per day (1$US) and washer (men) are paid 32 Ethiopian birr per day.
Member of YCFCU District of Kochere Yirgacheffe region Member of YCFCU since 2007 1605 farmers members 0.8 ha per farmer Altitude: 2000 to 2500 m Varietals: Heirloom Hama was a very pleasant surprise in the end of our visit. The cooperative is very well located in Kochere district. The view of Hama village from the cooperative washing station is beautiful. All Hama members who were in the washing station on time we arrived looked very involved in the meeting and very pleased to receive our visit. The feeling was very positive at this time. In 2014 the cooperative shipped the equivalent of 2 containers of washed coffee and a third of a unwashed container. In 2015, they are making a full natural container for us (special grade 3 prep) and they expect to ship the equivalent of 6 washed containers. They mentioned that doing the natural special preparation is not an issue for them and they like doing it for us. In 2014 the farmers received 12 Ethiopian birr per kg of cherries as a first price then a second price of 1 Ethiopian birr per kg. In 2015 they expect to get 13 to 15 Ethiopian birr per kg of cherries. The cooperative owns one washing station and another processing unit where they only receive, dry and mill natural coffee. The place we visited is the washing station. It looked much more organized than what we saw in Idido or Biloya. The water in the tanks still did not look very fresh but still better than in Idido and Biloya. The sorters teams were well organized and washers as well. During our visit the secretary mentioned that they decided to join with YCFCU in order to get access to a market that is more focused on quality and also in order to receive some support to produce a better quality coffee. Sorters (women) are paid 25 Ethiopian birr per day (1$US) and we did not get this data for washers (men).
YCFCU is really working to be proactive in term of promoting quality and getting higher prices for their coffees. They are setting up some measures that are supposed to increase the quality of the coffee they ship to their customer, which include premiums based on grade delivered. YCFCU is holding a cooperatives scorecard that puts the cooperatives into 3 different categories : -‐ Category 1 : These cooperatives are the most consistent in regard to quality, but also the ones that are dedicated to the Union and the one that are getting a higher demand from buyers. What I call the « hype » cooperatives. In this category we find Idido, Adado, Hafursa, Konga, Worka, BankoGotiti, and Adame. -‐ Category 2 : The cooperatives are showing good signs of development with a very decent quality and some positive signs in term of loyalty to the Union. In this category we find Biloya, Hama, or Arramo (and many more). -‐ Category 3 : These cooperatives are the ones that just started working with YCFCU or the ones that are not really demanded by the market. YCFCU exported 100 containers in the last season (13-‐14). They plan to export 220 containers in 14-‐15. This increase is due to a better harvest. YCFCU is now processing its coffee into its own processing facility in Addis. They still have no lab yet and are sometimes using SCFCU lab.
Member of SCFCU District of Shebedino Sidama region
Member of SCFCU since 2010 (2002 Ethiopian Calendar)
4000 farmers members
0,5 to 3,5 ha per farmer
Altitude: 1800 to 1900 m
Telamo cooperative decided to join SCFCU in 2010 in order to get access to the market through a very transparent and open book organization. In addition to the market access support the Union is also providing financial support to the cooperative as well as technical support to improve farming practices and processing practices as well. Telamo farmers and staff are working together in order to deliver to their Union a very high quality coffee. The cooperative owns 4 washing stations and 1 processing unit for natural coffee. The one we visited is for natural coffee. It shows drying tables to dry red cherries. The other processing units have a washing station to process washed coffee. In the natural coffee processing unit the cherries layer in the table was very thin and the cherries selection was very decent as well. There are two staff per table (25 m) to turn cherries around and guarantee a proper drying of all cherries. December is the best time to dry cherries. At this time of the year the weather is always very dry. In these conditions it lasts 20 days to dry the cherries and have it ready to be hulled. The cooperative also owns a huller for dried cherries hulling. It shakes the cherries first to remove any foreign material then it hulled the cherries. The final step in the machine is to shake again the beans in order to separate broken beans and light beans (floaters and immature). In 2015 the cooperative expects to ship the equivalent of 3 containers of natural and to shipe the equivalent of 10 containers of washed coffee.
Member of SCFCU District of Wonsho Siadama region
Member of SCFCU since 2005
4164 farmers members
0,5 ha per farmer
Altitude: 1800 to 1900 m
Fero cooperative is very often mentioned as the most successful cooperative in the whole country. The cooperative receives is well known for being very transparent to its members and to provide a very solid technical support to its members on the farming front as well as on the processing front. The industry manager (quality manager) of the main washing station is Teshome Debiso. He is really on top of the processing unit and is a very good advisor for all staff working at both cherries washing and on drying tables. He is also on site every night to carefully control the cherries selection of daily deliveries coming from the 16 collecting centers that the coop owns. Pulping machine is very well calibrated. However, the cooperative is also implementing a brand new Pinhalense eco pulper that was provided by Technoserve. Staff onto the washing site are paid 24 Ethiopian birr per day (1.05 $us). All of them are men. Staff on sorting/drying tables are paid 20 Ethiopian birr per day (1 $us). All of them are women. In 2014 Fero shipped the equivalent of 16 containers. In 2015 the cooperative expects to ship the equivalent of 20 containers.
Founded in 2001
Comprised of 80,000 members
1700 -1950 meters above sea level
Arabica – Heirloom
Citric acidity, full body, and lasting flavors of lemon zest, bergamot and bitter cocoa
Sidama Coffee Farmers Cooperative Union (SCFCU) was founded in 2001 to represent coffee producing cooperatives located throughout the Sidama Zone of southern Ethiopia both locally and in international markets. Today, SCFCU has grown to represent 46 cooperatives and more than 80,000 small-scale farmer families — making SCFCU the second largest Coffee Farmer Cooperative Union in Ethiopia. Coffees produced by SCFCU member cooperatives are shade grown in low densities under the canopies of indigenous trees and enset (false banana), a staple food crop for Sidama families. The Sidama region stretches across the rugged mountains of Bensa to the valleys of Dale and Aleta Wendo – which provide a range of quality profiles that exemplify this wealth of production landscapes. Sidama washed coffees show pronounced acidity, fruit flavors varying from red fruits to blueberry and sweet organic to tangy lemon aromas and flavors, medium body and a bitter cocoa finish. In Sidama regions of higher altitudes – often called “Yirgacheffe type” coffees – the coffee shows the characteristic and delicate flavors of bergamot and lemon zest. Sidamo natural process (unwashed) provides a quality profile with candied strawberry or blueberry fruit flavors, low acidity and rich, full body. Coop Coffees began sourcing directly from SCFCU in 2009. Since then, we have had the opportunity to develop direct relationships with several of the SCFCU community based cooperatives over the years, including Shilcho, Homacho Waeno, Talamo, Bona, Abela Galuko and Fero Cooperatives. Overall, Sidama Union produces some 10,000 tons of high quality Organic Arabica beans per year, of which nearly 95% is washed. SCFCU has been certified by Fair Trade Labeling Organizations International (FLO) since 2003, supporting their role as the bridge to develop producer-buyer relations and direct export OF members’ extraordinary, high quality coffee to international, gourmet markets.
Founded in 2006
Comprised of 2000 members
Bener Meriah, Aceh
Organic; FLO; SPP
1200 – 1600 meters above sea level
Arabica – Bourbon, Timtim, Ateng Super, Catimor (Hybrid of Caturra and Timtim)
Medium acidity, big body, earthy, leather, green pepper, red fruits
Rising abruptly from the coastal plains of Sumatra’s northern-most province, the mountains of Aceh Tengah (Central Aceh) are the historical home to the Gayonese people. The ideal growing conditions of this region have supported the long history and unique quality reputation of “Gayo Mountain” coffee. Most coffee grown in this area has followed a similar, traditional route: the farmer sells his coffee cherry to “collectors” at the going street price – who in turn de-pulp, wash and dry the coffee to asalan, or 20% humidity in parchment, before selling it to a centralized buyer in Takengon. The commercial buyers in turn negotiate a price with an exporter and truck the coffee down the mountain to the southern province of North Sumatra. Final processing occurs in the commercial plants in the coastal city of Medan, before shipping it out of the port at Belewan. In this scenario, the individual farmer rarely knows at what price his coffee was finally sold, or where it will end up. Permata Gayo was founded in 2006 in the Bener Meriah district of the Aceh Province, with the intention of changing history. In bringing the full process from farmer to final export under one roof, Permata Gayo is able to regain more control over each step of the way to improve quality, communications and direct sales, and to achieve their ultimate objective – sharing a bigger portion of the final price back to the farmers themselves. Cooperative Coffees began importing coffee from Permata in 2009. During these short five years, we have already seen incredible strides forward by members and staff to strengthen their internal structures and continually improve their quality control. With 36 villages and distinct processing centers, it is a constant challenge to maintain consistency. However, during our annual visits to Sumatra, we have seen well-equipped facilities, clean fermentation tanks, well- calibrated de-pulping machines, expanded drying patios, and a marked improvement in the attention given to coffee processing each step along the way: from cherry collection to final sorting and lot selection. Permata Gayo farmers are well informed about market expectations and are proud to know where their coffee is sold and of roaster and customer appreciation of their efforts. For Coop Coffees, Permata Gayo coffee has quickly become one of our most important offerings. With a characteristic quality profile of medium acidity, sweet and earthy flavors with hints of green pepper and dark walnut, a syrupy, full body and long, lingering finish, this is a popular coffee as single origin and an irreplaceable element in many of our members’ roasted blends.
Founded in 2008
Comprised of 1020 members
San Ignacio, Jaen and Cajamarca
Organic; FLO; SPP
900 – 2050 meters above sea level
Arabica – Bourbon, Typica, Caturra
Catuai, Pacche, Mondonovo
Medium acidity, full body, dried raisin, dark cocao and red fruits
Sol y Café was founded in 2005, with support from the Caritas Jaen technical team. They quickly moved to acquire the necessary organic and sustainable trading certificates to sell into North America and Europe and grew from their initial 27 clusters of producer base groups to more than 60 producer associations bringing together some 1,000 farmer families. They continue to share an office space in the Caritas complex in Jaen, where they maintain a small warehouse and quality control lab. Sol y Café has followed a steady growth plan, sticking to clear and strictly applied membership criteria. Members are expected to actively participate in the development of their cooperative and to contribute to its growth, by bringing in at least 51% of their estimated harvest. Producers requesting membership into the coop need the visto bueno of existing members within that particular community. Or, if the applicant comes from a community not yet associated to Sol y Café, he or she will be visited by the producer board of directors president, to assure that the candidate comes with the intentions of becoming a contributing cooperative member and dedicated to producing high-quality, organic coffee. Their strict criteria seem to be paying off. Sol y Café achieves export levels around 80% of their total collective harvest; and members show regularly as top finishers in quality competitions held nationally and abroad. Classic Sol y Café cupping notes include: jasmine floral fragrances, sweet tropical fruit, honey vanilla and caramel flavors, balanced with crisp acidity and a creamy, full body. In order to support their members in production yields, Sol y Café has proactively supported field experimentation that demonstrates, after a three-year transition process, volumes doubling with totals up to 40qq per hectare. Sol y Cafe is now implementing a 300-hectare renovation plan with all members, in order to replicate those production levels more broadly across their zone of influence. We began importing from Sol y Café only a few short seasons ago. However, due to the excellent communication, coffee quality and services to their members, Sol y Café has quickly become a solid and integral member of the Coop Coffees producer partner network.
Founded in 1999
Comprised of 2000 members
San Ignacio, Jaen, Cajamarca regions
1000 – 1900 meters above sea level
Arabica – Bourbon, Typica, Caturra
Crisp acidity, medium body w/ milk chocolate, dried fruits, honey and caramel flavors
CENFROCAFE was founded in 1999 with 220 small-scale coffee farmers in eleven community-based associations. Nearly fifteen years after their founding, CENFROCAFE, now based out of Jaen, serves more than 2,000 farmer members in local associations spanning across twelve districts within the lush Cajamarca region. From technical assistance and quality control workshops for their farmers, to economic and leadership training for the young people in their rural communities, CENFROCAFE works not only to support the commercial endeavors of its members – but also to facilitate the development of their communities as a whole. The CENFROCAFE financial team provides short-term credit that help farmers cover the front-end costs of the harvest and materials in the coffee production. CENFROCAFE is one of the leaders in creating a cooperative alliance with like-minded associations in the greater Cajamarca region to provide important technical and marketing services to thousands of small-scale farmers in Northern Peru. Without this kind of strong organization, local farmers would have otherwise been left each to his or her own devices to develop best practices for healthy fields and increased production yields, or for the marketing and sales of their coffee. Results to date are impressive. On average, CENFROCAFE producers yield 20qq (100lb sacks of parchment) of organic coffee per hectare, and often show in the top finalists in national and international quality competitions. The improved revenue for CENFROCAFE farmers has been instrumental for their access to basic health, education, and other social services. CENFROCAFE founding member and former president of the producer Board of Directors, Anselmo Huaman Moreto, explains: “A huge difference in our lives is that now our children can actually go to school, our coffee is being recognized in the market for the quality we produce, we are receiving a fair price for our efforts, and our members can be proud again to be farmers.” We began importing from CENFROCAFE in 2005. Since then, our relationship with this cooperative has flourished both in coffee purchases – with more than 2 million pounds direct purchased — as well as roaster efforts to support their production and quality improvement initiatives.
Founded in 1999
Comprised of 2600 members
Matagalpa and surrounding regions
Organic; FLO; SPP
900 – 1500 meters above sea level
Arabica – Bourbon, Typica, Caturra
Crisp acidity, medium body w/ milk chocolate, dried fruits, honey and caramel flavors
CECOCAFEN, the Central Association of Northern Coffee Cooperatives, was founded in 1997 with initial investments from their 500 producer members and financing support from international lending organizations in order to export their first containers. Today, CECOCAFEN represents some 2,600 farmer families in twelve community based cooperatives, with more than 100 container-loads of coffee exports per year. As a unique umbrella organization in the region, CECOCAFEN’s raison d’être is to support members’ production capacity and to promote and sell its members’ coffee in direct and fair trade export contracts to these coveted international niche markets. CECOCAFEN, with their expert quality control staff in the SolCafé processing plant and cupping lab, offers producer members quality assessments and advice for continual improvements to production and processing practices. With producing communities located in the mountains of Matagalpa, Jinotega and Las Segovias, renowned for rich volcanic soils, high altitudes, and a humid tropical climate – CECOCAFEN members are well positioned to produce consistently high-quality coffees with unique flavor profiles from each of the regions. Over the course of our 12-year relationship with CECOCAFEN and its cooperative members, we have witnessed the growth and development of their organization. We have worked together to: organize some of our initial region-wide producer and roaster exchange events; source special profile coffee lots to meet our members’ needs; and support each other through the ever-changing landscape of specialty, organic and fair trade markets. In addition to the smooth operations that have put more than 2.6 million pounds of coffee on the water and eventually to Coop Coffees roasters’ docks, CECOCAFEN has successfully supported local development of their communities through eco-tourism initiatives, a micro-lending program for women entrepreneurs, youth education scholarships from primary up to university levels and many social and cultural activities. The foundation of their operational success rests upon staying focused on three basic elements: producing a quality coffee; establishing programs for ecological practices; and offering equitable opportunities for integrated development of their members’ communities. During visits to the region, we consistently witness these elements reinforcing each other in the field.
Founded in 2001
Comprised of 800 members
San Cristóbal de Las Casas, Chiapas
Organic 1000-1300 meters above sea level
Arabica – Bourbon, Caturra,
Typica Medium acidity, medium body w/ dried cherry fruit notes and chocolate finish
Yachil Xojobal Chu’lchan, which means “new light in the sky” in the Tzeltal language, was founded in 2001 with an initial 383 small-scale coffee farmer members from the Tzotzil and Tzeltal Mayan indigenous communities in the municipalities of Chilon, Pantelho and San Juan Cancuc. A defining characteristic of Yachil membership is their progressive, political position of solidarity with the Zapatista movement, struggling for autonomy and respect for Indigenous rights. Coffee is one of the few viable export options for small-scale farmers in Chiapas, and in particular for Yachil farmers, who do not accept any financial support from the Mexican government. The sale of their coffee is their primary source of income. Yachil exported its first lot of coffee to solidarity buyers in Germany in 2003, and their first organic certified lots to Coop Coffees roasters in Canada and the USA in 2005. Since then, Yachil has worked hard to expand its volumes and sales in both solidarity and gourmet markets across Europe and in North America. Today, Yachil is comprised of some 800 members in eight municipalities ( Pantelhó, San Juan Cancuc, Chenalhó, Tenejapa, Chalchihuitán, Aldama (Magdalena de La Paz), Simojovel (16 de Febrero) and El Bosque (San Juan de La Libertad) across Chiapas, with annual exports of more than 130 tons of high quality, green coffee. With the profits from their sales, Yachil members have invested in improving the individual wet processing equipment in their communities, constructing a central warehouse to assure safer storage of parchment coffee prior to export, providing on-going technical workshops to members in organic practices and organizational leadership, and in trainings for the rotating Yachil producer Board of Directors in topics such as: basic accounting, cooperative administration and export, as well as improving their understanding of all necessary steps to assure consistent quality control and improvement. Despite their many accomplishments, Yachil farmers continue to live under a cloak of uncertainty. Members of this cooperative have formed their own local Indigenous governments, supporting development in keeping with their values and traditions, and promoting democracy, equality, and empowerment. Over the last decade of resistance, members of Yachil have suffered repression at the hands of government security forces and the paramilitary. Many members and their families have been forced to flee their communities and continue to live as internal refugees, victims of political oppression and intimidation.
Founded in 2001
Comprised of 620 members
Organic; FLO; SPP
1200-1600 meters above sea level
Arabica – Catuai, Caturra, Lempira, Pacas
Citric acidity, medium body, honey, mango and bitter chocolate flavors
Café Orgánico Marcala (COMSA) was founded in December of 2001 with a vision of creating new and alternative development opportunities for small-scale coffee farmers in the region. The organization originally brought together 69 small-scale farmers of Lenca origin who were interested in selling their coffee collectively under the umbrella of a rural credit union. At that time, the predominant production system in the region used conventional (chemical) practices and sold to the local coyotes, often at prices that did not even cover their production costs. One of the primary founding objectives of COMSA was to seek out and promote new ways of thinking – both in production, moving from conventional to organic production; and in markets, moving from commercial to specialty buyers. In the beginning the challenges were enormous, as transitioning from conventional to organic practices can cause dramatic drops in production yields. Many members became discouraged and dropped out of the organization. In response, the COMSA BoD and technical team looked for new methods of intensive organics to support their transition and established a strategic alliance with the Corporación Educativa para el Desarrollo Costarricense – CEDECO. With CEDECO’s support, staff and members of COMSA learned new and innovative practices to transform their lands into integrated organic farms – promoting soil and water conservation, and the preservation of local plant and wildlife. Meanwhile, members began to see improvements in coffee yields, better family relationships and rapid growth in membership for COMSA. With their initial successes, members became more and more open to experimentation with innovative organic practices. Their organic evolution is as follows: 2001 – use of organic materials, 2006 – application of micro-organisms in compost; 2010 -exploring the use of minerals; 2012 – production of fermented live solutions; 2013 – strengthening the grey matter (brainpower) of their technical team, members and strong educational program with their youth and women’s groups. Last season COMSA exported some 53,000qq (140 containers) of high quality green coffee, with the unique regional characteristics of Marcala: medium body and pronounced acidity, and nuances of floral, lemongrass, peach, wild berries, etc. This coming harvest, COMSA expects exports to approach 100,000qq (240,000). In order to assure best quality control, COMSA now manages their own wet and dry processing plants and are organic certified with Biolatina and export under FLO, SPP, Denominación de Origen Marcala (DOP) and UTZ.
Founded in 1999
Comprised of 500 members
The highlands of Chiapas (Acteal)
900-1400 meters above sea level
Arabica – Typica, Caturra,
Mundo Novo, Bourbon Citric acidity, medium body, milk chocolate, almond, honey flavors
The Cooperative “Producers’ Union Maya Vinic” is comprised of some 500 coffee farming families located in 38 highland communities in the municipalities of Chenalhó, Pantelhó and Chalchihuitán, in Chiapas, Mexico. Each member has on average one hectare of coffee and produces about 400 kilos annually. Inspired by the traditions of their ancestors, Maya Vinic operates with a respect for local language and culture, and a reverence for Mother Earth and traditional forms of self government. The founding members of Maya Vinic come out of the base organization “Las Abejas” – a network of Liberation Theology catechists in the region. They envisioned the cooperative in the aftermath of the 1997 Acteal massacre, where 45 of their members were caught in the political cross-fire of the era. The day of their funeral, survivors and sympathizers arrived each carrying a brick – which would be used to build a mausoleum to commemorate their dead. Yet it wasn’t until three years later, with the birth of Maya Vinic that they were able to create the foundation for new life in the community. The founding members worked hard: organizing, training, reclaiming the land, composting, pruning, communicating… both to locals for support and externally for a fair market – all looking for a better alternative to the life they had just come from. Striving to offer a consistently high-quality coffee, raised with care and respect for their natural resources — the coop offers their producer members regular educational and capacity-building activities focused on sustainable farming techniques and the importance of a strong social economy. Maya Vinic in the cup has a classic Chiapas profile, with medium body, bright acidity and balanced with sweet, deep flavors of caramel, dark chocolate and spices… and a hint of fruit. As a collective initiative to improve the living situations of their farmers, Maya Vinic understands that in addition to producing great coffee for our roaster members, they must also provide even greater economic benefit to their producers. They strive constantly to support dignified livelihoods and living conditions through the production and marketing of their green coffee as well as roasted coffee sales across Mexico and through their producer managed coffee-shop located in San Cristobal de Las Casas. Coop Coffees purchased the first Maya Vinic coffee to be exported under fair trade terms in 2002. Now some 12 years later, we celebrate one of our longest standing relationships anticipating the landing of our 1.5 millionth pound of coffee from them this season.
Founded in 1993
Comprised of 63 members
Canton Las Marias, Usulutan
600-900 meters above sea level
Arabica – Bourbon, Pacas
Mild acidity, full body w/ earthy, spice and cocoa flavors
Las Marias 93 is one of the positive and constructive results of the negotiated 1992 Chapultepec Peace Accords – ending decades of brutal civil war in El Salvador. As a part of these accords, this group of former combatants was able to purchase a piece of land in 1993 and Las Maria 93 cooperative was formed to help their communities move beyond their turbulent past. With a commitment to organic and sustainable farming, today 39 of their members are included in the Organic Program. The remaining members do not use chemicals in their production, but have not yet been organic certified. Their objective is to include all members in intensive organic practices. Las Marias 93 facilities include an ecological wet processor, drying patios and an industrial dry processor. They have also installed “eco-depulping machines” – which have reduced their water consumption from 124 gallons to 38 gallons per quintal and has reduced their electrical consumption by half; created a central organic compost production site; and maintain a nursery with a growing capacity of up to 25,000 coffee trees. The trees were purchased by the National Coffee Council to be distributed to coffee growers across the country as a program to revitalize productivity in El Salvador. They now have a permanent Internet access in their office and have set up a cyber café, thanks to funds they have earned via a long-standing exchange and delegation-hosting program they have established with a college in Washington D.C. The cyber café is run by a youth group organized within the coop, and is working with the local school and receive groups of students for training throughout the week. Las Marias 93 is also developing a rural tourism project and attempting to create a living history museum focused on the region, the Civil War and the 1992 Peace Accords. As part of another community and income diversification project, Las Marias 93 has also developed a solid, local roasted coffee market and has opened a roadside coffee shop / snack counter that is gaining popularity. Yet despite their impressive accomplishments, Las Marias 93 has been one of the most hard-hit organizations within our producer network by the dreaded leaf rust that has swept through the region. Las Marias 93 General Manager Porfirio Diaz estimates that up to 80 percent of all production has been damaged by the fungus and the entire organization is in an intensive 5-year recovery plan. In the meantime, what little production they have in the coming harvest, is being dedicated to maintain their local roasted coffee sales. We imported our first container from Las Marias 93 in 2009. And although the cooperative will most like not have exportable production for the next year or two, we will stay in communication to help in any way possible their recovery. Stay tuned, as we track their field renovation and are able to bring their fine coffee back up to our markets!
Founded in 1992
Comprised of 550 members
Department of Cauca
Organic; FLO; SPP
1300-1900 meters above sea level
Arabica – Typica, Castillo
Bright acidity, full body w/ raisin, apricot, honey blossom and brown sugar flavors
Located in the remote, highland regions of Cauca, the Paez (who also call themselves Nasa, or “the people”) is the largest indigenous group in Colombia. Fondo Paez was founded in 1992, with the primary goal of recuperating traditional agricultural knowledge and indigenous culture which had been buried by centuries of conflict and oppression. The main cash crop of this region is still coffee. Therefore, to ensure a stable income for their members, Fondo Paez proposed a cooperative of community based coffee farmer associations. By 2000, they were sufficiently self-organized to be selling coffee through the Coffee Federation’s Specialty Coffee program. Today they are active members of the fair trade community and process, market, and export their coffee via the regional plant at ExpoCosurca, but maintain full independence in their internal decision-making process. They are governed democratically with final decision-making powers at the general assembly of member delegates, and the day to day work distributed between the producer board of directors and production, organizational, internal credit and external marketing committees run by the members themselves. Quality control is an art unto itself within Fondo Paez. Prior to their harvest, running from early June through late August in the majority of their growing regions, Fondo Paez promoters visit each member to review production results and to encourage best picking, handling and wet processing practices. Their efforts to date have definitely paid off. Fondo Paez coffee is characterized by pungent flavors of raisin, apricot and fresh berries, honeysuckle and vanilla aromas, bright acidity and silky full body; and their coffee continues to win recognition and awards as a 90+ coffee in both local and international cupping competitions. But that is not to say that the path is clear for Fondo Paez farmers. Climate change increasingly wreaks havoc on their harvests, with unseasonable rains, heat waves and, as in so much of Latin America, severe leaf rust, also known as the dreaded roya. Fondo Paez suffered the brunt of this infestation some four years ago. But their members are only now coming back with full production levels. In the meantime, these have been challenging years. Many families have depended upon other crops and products such as corn, potatoes, beans, a variety of root vegetables, cows’ milk and cheese, and the manufacturing of panela; a bi-product of sugar cane to complement what little coffee sales they had, while working their field renovations towards full coffee production recovery. We began importing from Fondo Paez in 2004. Since then, we have purchased more than 2 million pounds of their fine coffee and have followed their development closely – both with site visits and regular communication, as well as offering roaster and staff support as they worked through a very tough time with their production and field renovation. We are inspired to see the extent to which Fondo Paez has created a sustainable vision for their indigenous communities. This is remarkable in and of itself, but the work and successes of this organization are truly extraordinary when viewed within the context of Colombian politics and globalization. From Spanish conquest centuries ago to the armed conflict raging in their territory for the past 40 years, the Paez people continue to struggle for their lives and livelihoods, their land, and their rights to self-determination.
Founded in 1988
Comprised of 85 members
Organic; FLO; SPP
1350 – 1700 meters above sea level
Arabica – Typica, Caturra
Medium acidity, full body, cocao, sweet almond and ripe berry flavors
The Mejillones cooperative was founded May 8, 1988 when the original 20 farmer members came together to promote organic practices and quality coffee production in the region. Today with 85 members, Mejillones is well positioned to sell into national and international fair trade and organic markets – now with an average annual production level of some 3,750,000 pounds of exportable, green coffee. Quality improvement and control has been a cornerstone in Mejillones development. Mejillones Commercial Manager Marcial Huanca is certified as a Q-grader and has judged at Cup of Excellence and Cup of Fair Trade competitions previously held in Bolivia. He has actively promoted internal competitions at Mejillones in order to promote best practices and internal learning amongst members. Their efforts have paid off. With dark fruit, fig and dark chocolate flavors, sweet and pleasant acidity and a thick, creamy body, the Mejillones’ classic cup profile tends to be a top finisher in national competitions Given that the Caranavi region underwent a relatively recent land reform – farmers here have relatively large plots. On average, Mejillones producers own 4-8 hectares of land, with much of that dedicated to coffee. Wet processing is done individually on site. And once the coffee parchment has been fully sun-dried on patios, the producers will bring their sacks to the Mejillones central warehouse in Calama. When a container load is ready for processing, a truck is dispatched to transport the parchment coffee to the Mejillones dry processing plant in El Alto, La Paz. Nearly 90 percent of Fair Trade premiums earned at Mejillones have been invested in the purchase and maintenance of this plant in El Alto, further enhancing both their organizational autonomy and their quality control. Now with proven quality, and with Fair Trade and Small-Farmer Symbol certifications, Mejillones is well positioned to sell into specialty and fair trade markets alike. The remaining 10 percent of Fair Trade premiums goes towards the purchase of organic components and for education and training going towards Mejillones members’ composting and soil management regimes. Our partnership with Mejillones began only a few short years ago. But we are encouraged and enthusiastically looking forward to a long and mutually beneficial relationship into the future!